He has been named 'Bachelor Of The Year' by Asian Woman magazine and has been ranked among the 'Top 10 Most Handsome Asian Models' in the UK. Critics have also dubbed him the 'next Jay Sean'. But such titles sit lightly on Abbas Hasan, the Canada-born, Paris-raised and UK-based model, actor and singer who gets more excited when he speaks about his forthcoming single or his special relationship with mentor-producer Rishi Rich than by talks of his appeal among young women! A multi-faceted talent who has also faced the camera for a Malayalam movie (Mazhavillinattam Vare), Abbas proves that language and geographical borders are no barriers for creativity. Masala! met the hottie when he was in Dubai recently to find out what makes him such a sensation back in the UK.
You were born in Canada and raised in Paris. What are the most enduring memories of your childhood?
I moved to Paris at the age of one so Paris has always been home for me. The best part about growing up in Paris was that I was constantly surrounded by artists, writers, photographers and musicians. The environment was perfect for me to develop as an artist.
How and when did you get your first big break as a singer?
My first break was when I was a child in Paris. I used to sing at my school and we signed a few different music projects with Disney and other companies. Recording in a studio at such a young age definitely had a huge impact on me.
Can you please tell us more about your association with Rishi Rich?
What can I say about Rishi? He's more than just my producer. Now he's like family. When he first signed me as an artiste I was completely new to the UK music scene and he took me on as his protg. He believed in me and that meant a lot coming from a legendary producer whose previous protgs include people like Jay Sean. He has also produced for celebrities like Madonna and Britney Spears! Today he is my producer, mentor and friend and we've been busy working on my debut album. I feel really blessed that the two tracks we've done together so far Sona and Habibi both went to be number one on the British-Asian charts.
What does it take to stand out in the Asian music scene in the UK?
I think it's important to have your own identity. I often see artists trying to imitate or emulate others. You should know what you stand for as an artist and then give it your all. For me it's all about breaking down barriers and bringing people together by exposing them to different rhythms, languages and sounds from my various influences. People first thought the idea of a song in French, Urdu, Hindi and English sounded nuts but then they heard Sona which went to the top of the charts; it was an amazing moment for us.
What made you act in the south Indian film industry?
When the film was first offered to me, I wasn't sure about it because I was busy working on my album with Rishi. But then I learned more about the film and the director's vision and everything changed. For me, it's all about doing projects that I believe in. If a project inspires me artistically then that's all that matters.
The film is a cricket-based love story about friendship and getting back to your roots but most importantly it's a film about not believing in borders and boundaries. As a global Asian artist, that message is important to me, so I knew I had to do it.
The experience was incredible. It's not every day you get to work with a two-time Filmfare Award-winner as your director and world class cricketers like Robin Singh, Syed Kirmani and Sreesanth as your coaches in a film.
Learning my lines in a foreign language was the hardest part as I speak Hindi and Urdu fluently but not south Indian languages. But the team and my co-stars were amazing and really helpful. You can look forward to lots of fun, action and of course romance!
Which artistes do you look up to in the music world?
I have a very diverse taste in music, so I'm inspired by everyone from Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan to David Bowie or even Madonna.
In the Bollywood music scene, who would you like to collaborate with and why?
I'm a huge fan of AR Rahman. Every project he works on has a uniqueness to it and there's always an unexpected twist or flavour.
What tunes are currently topping your iPod playlist?
A lot of rock, Mediterranean, pop and B'wood.
How do you balance your modelling, acting and music career?
It's been a crazy year with lots of travelling Canada, Paris, Cuba, Norway, Germany, Cyprus and Dubai, to name a few. Sometimes it's a challenge but I'm doing what I love most so I enjoy every minute of it. I just finished shooting my new music video for my upcoming single Jaan Ke Vaaste and have wrapped an ad campaign for Virgin. I know it's not typical to do all three, but I'm not here to fit in or follow a mould. For me, making music is the most fun because that is how I best express myself.
What do titles like 'Bachelor of The Year' or being ranked among Top 10 Most Handsome Asian Male Models mean to you?
All these titles are very flattering but I don't focus on all that. I have a lot more fun working on projects that I can sink my teeth into. But I do love the industry for all the love they've shown me; I can't wait to take them on a new journey!
If you had the chance to see a Bollywood leading lady, who would it be and why?
Well I met Priyanka Chopra in London as I was headlining the premiere of Teri Meri Kahaani in London. And I must say she was very charming!
What was it like interacting with audiences in Dubai? Do you plan to visit the city again sometime soon?
I had a great time in Dubai. It was a quick visit but I'll definitely be coming more regularly after my upcoming releases. I feel the places here offer a great break from the UK. I will definitely be back to perform and to party. Lots of love to the Dubai crowd!